Hart spends $75m upgrading US paper mill

The big Evergreen Packaging company owned by New Zealand billionaire Graeme Hart will today announce it is investing more that $US50 million ($NZ75.1m) to upgrade its Pine Bluff mill in Arkansas.

The company said the investment will improve existing processes and reduce waste, the Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported.

"We believe this expansion, the result of working with both the state and local economic development officials, is a major step in keeping our products competitive in markets around the world," Evergreen chief executive Malcolm Bundey said in a statement.

"What we produce in Pine Bluff is used everywhere from China to South America."

The company, which is owned by Mr Hart's private investment company Rank Group, employs more than 1000 people in the Pine Bluff area. No new jobs are expected to be created by the expansion, which totals $US53 million. It makes a variety of cartons, packaging items and other paper products.

Mr Hart agreed in December 2006 to buy International Paper's drinks packaging business Evergreen Packaging for $NZ725 million, and six months later bought Swiss packaging company SIG for $NZ3.2 billion.

In August 2007 Mr Hart bought US packaging company Blue Ridge Paper Products of North Carolina to merge with Evergreen's operations in Arkansas, and Rank Group is now the world's second biggest player in the paper products business.

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Good on ya graeme. Anyone know this guy personally?

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Graeme is a fantastic businessman. I am a fan of his work and good on him! If you believe in yourself, anything is possible!

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I wish NZ had loads of Graeme Harts to buy and successfully run kiwi owned international businesses, then NZ would be able to catch Australia, actually probably buy it.

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